We've arrived in Unalakleet, a village of about 900 people
on the coast of the Bering Sea (Norton Sound). Unalakleet
is the home of our Iditarider, Ebba Katchatag. Despite all the
good times I had here this year, I am still disappointed that
the race ended much earlier than we all expected. I was taken
out of Unalakleet before I had a chance to go mushing with Ebba,
to videotape the village while riding on a snowmachine, to visit
more of the wonderful people of this village, and to thank those
that were so dedicated to this race and for the hospitality they
showed to all of us who were lucky enough to be able to visit
A tractor prepares the "parking lot" for the arrival of
the dog teams. The winds in Unalakleet are impressive,
necessitating these snow fences to protect the dogs from
the winds while they rest for the next leg of their journey.
It's difficult to see in this picture, but the snow is blowing
into the village from the hills toward Norton Sound as snowmachiners
travel out several miles to see where the leaders are and to give the
the village a heads-up as to their arrival times.
The teams are arriving at last, with the familiar "pile of dogs", as
the team members sleep very close to each other to preserve warmth.
This dog is quite warm, complete with a snow blanket
that retains his body heat as he snoozes after the
run from Kaltag, the last village on the Yukon River.
There is just something about a blue-eyed husky.
The intensity of their eyes brings out their
drive, determination, and desire to win.
Martin Buser, the first musher into camp and, of
course, a very happy man at that point, takes a
moment between bites to have his picture taken with
Kaitlyn, a student and Iditarod fan in Unalakleet.
Christy and Teeda join the party as we welcome
the mushers and about 1,000 dogs into Unalakleet.
Ebba, our Iditarider, is always surrounded by family and friends.
Charlie Boulding arrives in camp and is greeted
by his wife, Robin, who is snowmachining her way
up the entire Iditarod Trail this year. That is
also a very challenging adventure! Having made the
excursion from McGrath to Ophir in a snowmachine, the
thought of having a "roll bar" on them is not out of
the question (!). But, that's another story ....
Ebba greets Bruce Lee, her Iditarider musher,
with a much-needed shoulder massage.
Now here's a musher, Sonny King, who's warm, southern
hospitality extends all the way to the frozen west coast
of Alaska. He even tolerates goofy, "tourist" volunteers
from California ... whatta guy!
Rick Swenson, still the only 5-time Iditarod
Champion, also tolerates camera-toting tourists.
Believe me, if I would have come off the trail as
they did, I wouldn't be nearly as cordial!
Click for Unalakleet part 2